My latest interview is with an American lady going by the name of D.M.Miller. She's an author who writes in the genre of romance. However if you look deep into her work you will see that her stories are not just about romance they hit home on many of today's problems of inter-faith relationships. This is what she has to say about her work.
So D.M.; Your second novel, Agony of the Heart has just come out. Many of your fans will know it’s the follow up to the excellent Religion of the Heart, which it must be said received some great reviews. Go on tell me all about them.
The feedback has been wonderful, but the most exciting response has been from both men and women (but mostly men) who initially said they don't read romance but ended up loving it. The Religion of the Heart is not your stereotypical romance. It is absolutely a love story but not like any love story you've read before.
What are the back-stories for the main characters and will we see them again in future novels?
Abdul was born in Egypt to a wealthy Muslim family who kept him more or less isolated with private tutors. He immersed himself in books and formed his own opinions about things, sometimes contrary to what he'd been taught. As a result, when he meets the Jewish Catherine, who was raised in America, he knows the hateful things people say about Jews but remains fixated on her nonetheless.
Will these characters come up in future novels? Oh yes! The series will continue, and more characters will be added. The third installment should be out next year.
What research has went into your books?
The research for these books was so intense, I spent far more hours learning than actually writing. Much of it, I already knew, but I had to delve even deeper into Judaism, Islam and Christianity, Egyptian culture and Egyptian Arabic, which has its own dialect. When I research, I never rely on one source but multiple sources. I read, then read some more, then talk to people and talk to more people, then read again. My research was so extensive, a friend of mine said, "Ok. Enough's enough already. Publish this thing!" This was after four years.
Out of the two books you have written, what’s your favourite? Oh and tell me what you love; or hate about the characters, not just the two main characters but some of the sub characters also.
Agony of the Heart is my favorite of the two, and it's the second in the series. It's quite different from the first, and I think my fans will be surprised.
As for the characters, they're all complex people, who have both good and bad qualities. Catherine really struggles. She wants one thing, but when she gets it, she's not sure how to handle it. Abdul is confused as well, having a strict Muslim upbringing but also having a Western influence on his thought process at the same time. A bold person with a strong personality, he has a big heart but can also be harsh and lack compassion. That side of him comes out in the second book.
Dan means well but can come across the wrong way, and Amirah is sort of a strange ally but an ally all the same.
I write my characters in a realistic way. Nothing is simple in life, and the same is true of these people.
How much of your own personal character has went into any of these characters?
There is a little bit of me in both Catherine and Abdul, and there's a little bit of some people I know in them and in other characters. Abdul's father, for example. Oh, I know him well!
People tend to assume I'm Catherine, but that simply is not true. There are a couple of things that happen to her in Agony that mirror my own experiences, but none of them are major plot points.
To me there is a theme and a message that has went into your two books, can you tell me a little more about what this is?
My books point out some of our differences, but they also show our similarities. Are these cultural clashes too much for a relationship to bear? When you strip us down completely, we are men and women with the same issues as any other men and women, but at the same time, our cultures and religions have a tremendous impact on our way of thinking. Even if we're secular, the influence is there, and no matter how we feel, our families can destroy everything if we let them. Beyond that, I'll let the reader decide.
What are your future plans as a writer?
I will continue writing this series, have a poetry book set to come out next month, and I will also be writing a nonfiction book about being raised interfaith. I happen to have a Catholic mother and a Jewish father, so this theme is near and dear to my heart.
How would you describe your own writing style?
I pour my heart and soul into my writing and never write anything that doesn't have meaning. There is nothing subtle about it. My characters have real emotions, and contrary to expert writing advice to simply hint at this or that, I pull the reader into this world I've created in order to truly experience what these characters are going through.
Do you know of any unsung heroes in the writing profession that deserve a mention?
Well, you, for one! Orit Arfa is another one. She's an Israeli author, a real Renaissance woman who can write both fiction and nonfiction, sing and paint, and who knows what else? Her book, The Settler, is my favorite book of all time, and it has so many layers, it's like peeling an onion. It truly is a work of art, put together masterfully, and has an important message. It's a book that means something, and that's why I love it.
Apart from romantic fiction which other books do you enjoy reading?
I've been reading all sorts of genres in order to see what's out there but also to support my fellow indie authors, but honestly, I never enjoy any other genre the way I enjoy a good love story. And a lot of the romance that's out there doesn't do it for me either. It might be light and airy and pleasant, but it doesn't move me. I need to be moved.
Now, I did just finish reading Leah Remini's book on leaving Scientology and found it to be fascinating. I saw parallels between Scientology and other religions and may in the future draw from that in my own writing.
Who is your favourite author and why?
That would be Orit Arfa. However, there were many influences growing up, like Hemingway, the Biblical Book of Esther (another reason why I connect with Arfa, and if you read her work, you'll see why), Toni Morrison, Elie Wiesel, Bernard Lewis, and so many more, like the poets: Lord Byron, Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, etc.
Goethe wrote a book called, The Sorrows of Young Werther. It was so pitiful, and yet I love it.
How does your writing day work?
I set a daily goal and write that goal down on a chart. Then I may write half in the morning and the other half either in the late afternoon or evening, unless I was on a roll in the morning and got it all done. Other people with full-time jobs don't have that luxury, but everyone has to figure out some sort of plan and follow it, depending on what will work in their lives and how they can fit it in.
D.M., I want to give you a big thank you for answering these questions for me and I wish you all the very best and all the success you deserve.
Thank you, Peter. I appreciate the opportunity to tell my story.